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The Daily Word of Righteousness
The Perversion of Grace, #4
For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. (Jude 1:4)
First, let us define grace as the term is employed by many believers. Then we shall set forth what we think is the true, scriptural definition of grace.
Grace As Currently Defined by Many Believers
The term grace is used in our day to represent a waiving of God's requirements concerning man's behavior, an alternative to them. Christ is seen as coming to earth primarily to forgive the moral shortcomings of the believers so they may go to Heaven when they die.
The concept is that through the centuries man has not been able to meet God's expectations. Therefore God in His love and mercy has made it possible for unimproved man to inherit life in the spirit Paradise in Heaven. The blood of Jesus is a "ticket" which sinful, rebellious man may use to obtain entrance to peace and joy in the spirit realm.
It is stated that it is not necessary for man to change his behavior; rather, it is his profession of "faith" in Christ that brings him into fellowship with God. In actual practice the profession of faith often proves to be a mental assent to certain theological facts rather than true faith in the living Jesus.
Grace is currently understood to be a changing of God's standard of righteous and holy behavior, a changing of God Himself, so that man through Christ may be able to receive the inheritance of a son of God even though he remains sinful, self-centered, and disobedient to God.
An unchanged Adam is permitted back into Paradise. He is given to eat of the tree of life. Untransformed believers serve as kings and priests of God. God accepts man as he is, through Christ.
The father comes to his prodigal son in the pigsty, runs to him and falls on his neck, kisses him, puts the best robe on him, a ring on his finger and shoes on his feet, kills the fattened calf, and restores the family inheritance to him. The son then arises from among the pigs and returns to his riotous living, knowing his father will never disown him.
How unscriptural, misleading, and destructive is the doctrine of "once saved always saved" (meaning if we once make a profession of faith in Christ we never again need to worry about the judgment of God)! How many teachers of the Christian faith will stand before God with their followers and discover that God judges every man according to his works!
The story of the prodigal son teaches not only forgiveness but also true repentance as the means of gaining that forgiveness. How would the story have ended if the prodigal had never returned to his father?
Modern Christian theology stresses the father's forgiveness but not the son's repentance, apart from which there could have been no forgiveness or restoration.
To be continued.